When the pointedly innovative Edge – Celebrity Cruises’ first new ship in six years and the groundbreaker for a new class of vessels – was floated out of her construction dry dock at the STX France shipyard in January, some observers may have spotted an example of something old being new again.
Her bow is straight, not in a curve that sweeps back from deck to the water, a common design on passenger vessels for decades. And tucked under this prow is the deceptively clumsy-looking bulb that usually pokes out well ahead of the nose just under the waterline.
While it’s eye-catching in its dissimilarity from the pack, Edge’s stem was designed for efficient performance.
“In fact there is nothing new in it,” says Anshul Tuteja, RCL director of energy management. “It’s been in the industry for decades. “The ships back in the ‘60s and ‘70s used to come out with a straight bow, and most Navy vessels generally have it.”
The reason, especially fitting on a ship called Edge, is to “knife” through the water for speed. But speed guzzles fuel, and as time passed and fuel prices climbed, there was an increasing need to optimize hull resistance “and somebody came up with the great idea of using this bulbous bow,” Tuteja explains.
According to lore, military ship designers preparing for World War I discovered that test models equipped with a jutting torpedo tube cut wave resistance, increasing efficiency. At that time, this counterintuitive addition to the ship’s bow was called a “bulbous forefoot.”
A ship creates waves as it travels forward, and the waves drag on the hull. By spreading the waves away from the hull before they reach it, the properly designed bulb greatly reduces the water’s friction on the hull.
On Edge, which has a relatively svelte beam or breadth of 128 feet, the bulb is tucked under the bow rather than protruding ahead of it.
While Edge’s bow configuration borrowed from well-established designs found in decades of maritime history, virtually all the rest of the vessel proclaims innovation. And for the entire ship, “virtual” is a key word.
It was completely designed in 3D virtual reality inside the Innovation Lab at Royal Caribbean’s Miami headquarters.
Celebrity calls it “the most refined ship at sea.” Outside, the most visible innovation – a designated eye-catcher named the Magic Carpet – will ride on vertical rails while serving different functions at different times between Deck 16 and Deck 2, all 90 tons of it, about the size of a tennis court. Fitted with a bowed roof, sometimes it will serve as a specialty restaurant, other times as an embarkation station for shore excursions, and other times for other purposes.
Inside are two-story villas with private plunge pools, staterooms with Infinite Verandas, a terraced pool deck offering expanded views of the land and seas, a new type of stateroom designed specifically for solo travelers and much more.
The new class will be filled out when Celebrity Edge is joined by three sister ships on order for 2020, 2021 and 2022.